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"Imagine you are a piece of unfinished art. Someone began you but then became stuck, unsure how to complete you. You exist in every artist's studio as a canvas leaning against a wall, as pieces of sculpture shoved in a corner. You have no will of your own; you are at the mercy of an artist who may or may not return to you."
~Jennifer Levin, The zen of art-upcycling maintenance: A show of teamwork, Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo, November 2014
From ArtCollision Santa Fe catalog by Lauren Tresp, publisher and editor-in-chief at Southwest Contemporary:
"Regardless of the projects we are working on, the following are feelings familiar to all of us: frustration with our progress, creative block, dissatisfaction with our final product, etc. What if you could turn the whole thing over to someone else? Could you wholly surrender a potentially doomed endeavor to the hands of another for intervention? These are some of the questions that formed the root of the Art Collision & Repair Shop, a process- and collaboration-driven art project created by Santa Fe- and Brooklyn-based artist Susan Begy and co-curated for exhibition in Santa Fe with art historian and critic Kathryn M Davis. Following this initial line of inquiry, and inspired by Begy’s personal experience growing up around an auto mechanic shop, an expansive project emerged that opened up lines of inquiry including the dynamics of team collaborations, conceptions of authorship, the role of curatorial direction, and the aesthetics of community-specific large-scale installation.
Taking the format of the mechanic shop as a model, local artists brought in and surrendered “stalled” or frustrating works, and “art mechanic” teams—also comprised of local creatives—were each given a piece along with the task of intervening in, resuscitating, or otherwise resolving the artwork to the point of completion. By using this model, the role of the curators was reimagined. Rather than selecting artists’ works for exhibition, the curatorial role here was in combining the elements and guiding the alchemy along.
The project explored not only issues of intervention and surrender, but most significantly the collaborative creative process. With open-ended freedom (and plenty of space to fill at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe), each team proceeded down unique paths. Some preserved most of the donated piece and built upon it, for example, in Team MC-D’s reworking of Matthew Chase-Daniel’s donated piece, the woven object remained intact and served as a jumping off point for the team’s additions and pendulum-like installation of exposure | distance. Other teams deconstructed the originating artwork and reconstructed something else entirely, as in Team Conspiracy Theory’s Project Sandhill, in which painter Charles Greeley’s contribution all but disappeared amidst the frenetic collection of documents, photos, maps, and detritus collected in search of a fictive conspiracy at work in New Mexico.
Internally, some teams worked more independently and then merged their contributions, others worked closely together throughout the process. The resulting installations reflect widely different aesthetics and conceptual concerns, from Team Liminal’s meditative, lyrical Untitled, to Team Reverse Waste-Stream Renovators’ eclectic, irreverent Decommissioned Turbocharged Transformation and Glorious Resoulification of the North American Free-Trade Agreement Altarpiece of Reflection. Despite this, the exhibition space was filled with an overarching feeling of exploratory and playful energy.
The individual projects and resulting exhibition ultimately blurred the lines of authorship, giving the endeavor an aura of place rooted in the Santa Fe community. The specific locality of the elements—teams, artist-donors, curators, venue, audience—invokes curiosity: how would the same endeavor take shape elsewhere? Is there a specific spirit or aesthetic at work in Santa Fe, New Mexico? Would the spirit and aesthetic of the project look and feel different in Houston, Chicago, Portland, etc.? There is a way to find out: perhaps the Art Collision and Repair Shop will open additional locations!"
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